Fitness

A Quick 4-Move Workout You Can Do Anywhere From Celebrity Trainer Erin Oprea

Now that the weather is (hopefully) warming up in your neck of the woods, the concept of exercising outdoors is finally appealing again. For your next outdoor workout, consider a four-part circuit that trainer Erin Oprea recently posted on Instagram.

On Monday, the Nashville-based author of The 4×4 Diet shared an Instagram video of her demoing a series of exercises that can easily be performed al fresco—all you need is your bodyweight and an elevated step. Of course, you can also perform this circuit inside, too.

“This workout can be done ANYWHERE and if you focus on perfect form it will work your whole body!” Oprea writes in the caption.

You can check out the moves yourself, via @erinoprea, here:

As for the inspiration for this circuit, Oprea tells SELF she was at the pool and wanted to sneak in a little movement before grabbing lunch. “If your goal is for something short, quick, yet effective, [this circuit is] great,” she says.

Why this circuit makes a great workout

In terms of strengthening benefits, the circuit, as a whole, “pretty much hits the whole body,” says Oprea. There are four different moves and they each involve a slightly different combination of muscles and/or muscle groups. The sit-ups work essentially your entire core; the decline push-ups work your chest, triceps, back, shoulders, glutes, quads, and core; the plank twists really work your obliques, plus your glutes, legs, shoulders, and back; and the Bulgarian split squats are “killer on the legs” as well as the glutes and core, says Oprea. In other words, if you do all four moves back-to-back as this circuit suggests, you’ll engage nearly every big muscle group in your body.

On top of that, a few of these moves (like the Bulgarian split squats and even the push-ups) will likely get your heart rate up, says Oprea. Translation: The circuit ends up being a sneaky cardio workout, too.

Another notable perk of this workout is that all of the moves can be easily progressed or regressed. The circuit, as Oprea demos it, is moderately challenging, she says. But with simple tweaks, you can make it easier or harder depending on your fitness level and goals.

How to do the circuit

For a full workout, do the following circuit four times through, resting about 1 minute (or less) in between each round. The less rest you take in between each round, the more of a cardio challenge the workout will be.

As mentioned, you just need an elevated step to get it done. Find something sturdy that’s about knee-height, recommends Oprea. You may also want a mat for the sit-ups.

Of course, make sure to speak with your doctor before starting this or any new exercise to make sure it’s safe for you. Oprea notes that those with bcak issues and/or diastasis recti (separation of the abs, which is a common side effect of pregnancy) should probably skip the sit-ups, says Oprea. If you have knee issues, the Bulgarian split squats probably aren’t a great idea. But again, talk to your doctor if you have these or any other concerns.

Sit-up and Twist

  • If using a mat, place it on the ground perpendicular to the elevated step.
  • Lie down on the ground (or on top of the mat) so that your body is perpendicular to the step. Rest your heels up on the step so that your toes are pointed up. Your legs should be straight and angled slightly out into a V-shape.
  • Tilt your pelvis under a bit and engage your core. This will protect your back from excess stress when you sit up.
  • From here, raise both arms out straight in front of your chest and use your core to lift your torso up. As you sit up, reach your arms up, and then at the top of the sit-up, twist your torso to the right and reach your left hand toward your right ankle.
  • Come back to center with both hands raised, and then use your core to lower your torso back down.
  • Repeat, but this time at the top of the movement, reach your right hand toward your left ankle.
  • Come back to center with both hands raised, and then use your core to lower your torso back down.
  • This is 1 rep. Do 15 reps.

This move is “very difficult for a lot of people,” says Oprea. To make it easier, position your body further away from the elevated step; to make it more challenging, scooch yourself closer. You can also make the move easier by performing it with your heels on the ground versus on the elevated step, says Oprea.

However you do the move, focus on continual core engagement as you sit up and down and as you perform the twists. Keep it “nice and controlled,” says Oprea. “This is not meant to be fast and slinging your body around.”

Decline Push-up

  • Get on all fours with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-distance apart.
  • Lift your legs up one at a time to place your toes on top of the elevated step. From here, walk yourself out into a high plank position. Squeeze your butt and quads and engage your core so that your back is flat (not arched or rounded). Your body should be in one straight line from your head to your heels.
  • From here, bend your elbows to lower your chest to the ground.
  • Then, push yourself back up, keeping your core, butt, and quads engaged and your back flat.
  • This is 1 rep. Do 20 reps.

These decline push-ups will work your chest from a slightly different angle than a standard push-up, says Oprea. In terms of executing them correctly, the biggest mistake Oprea sees is arching the lower back. Prevent that by tucking your pelvis in, bracing essentially your entire body—from your shoulders to your back, core, glutes, and legs—and then lowering your entire body down as one unit. As you do so, lead with the chest, not the head, she adds.

Also, make sure you lower your body down a significant amount with each rep (don’t just perform micro pulses with your arms). If that much lowering is too difficult, or if you are still working on mastering the traditional push-up, regress the move by doing knee push-ups on the ground, says Oprea. Over time, you can work up to legs extended and then on an incline.

Plank Twist

  • Keeping your toes atop the elevated step, place your hands directly under your shoulders, tuck your pelvis in, and engage your core so that your back is flat (not sagging or rounded). Squeeze your butt and quads. As with the previous move, your body should form one long, straight line from the top of your head to your heels.
  • From here, lift your right foot up off the step, bend your right knee and slowly draw it in toward your chest and across to your left elbow.
  • Slowly reverse the twist to place your right toes back on the step. Then, lift your left foot up, bend your left knee and slowly draw it in toward your chest and across to your right elbow.
  • Slowly reverse the twist to place your right toes back on the step.
  • This is 1 rep. Do 20 reps.

By performing these plank twists with your feet elevated (versus on the ground), you’re adding extra pressure on your upper body. This means the strengthening demands on your shoulders, in particular, are greater. If you feel that you’re putting too much weight in your shoulders, perform it with your feet on the ground instead, says Oprea.

As with the sit-up twists, focus on good form—not speed—as you do this move. “Don’t swing your body around,” says Oprea. “These are nice and controlled movements.” With each twist, think about performing a little crunch with your abs.

Bulgarian Split Squat

  • Position yourself into a staggered stance. Prop your left foot on the elevated step. You can flatten your foot so that your shoelaces are lying face down, or, if that hurts your ankle, go onto your toes.
  • Hop your right foot forward a few feet so that your knee will not pass your toes when you perform the split squat, but not so far that you feel a significant strain in your back hip.
  • Brace your core and bend both knees to lower your body into a split squat until your front quad is parallel to the ground. Make sure to keep your core tight, spine straight (your torso may need to lean slightly forward to achieve this, and that’s fine), and shoulders back (not hunched up or rounded forward).
  • Push through the heel of your standing leg as you straighten that knee and return to standing.
  • This is 1 rep. Do 20 reps, and then switch legs for another 20 reps.

This split squat is especially good for working the quads, butt, and core, says Oprea. The core, in particular, is the stabilizing force in this move as your body works to stay balanced with every rep. Think about continually engaging it throughout.

Another form tip: Make sure to keep your back knee bent and pointing down as you perform the split squats, says Oprea, who adds that many people incorrectly tend to keep it straight. Also, make sure that you don’t rock your body forward as you lower down—keep your shoulders back and chest up.

If you have trouble balancing, stand near a sturdy object—like a tree or bench—and lightly rest a hand on top of the object for added stability. To make the move more difficult, hold a set of light dumbbells in your hands as you squat.

Oprea’s final tip for the circuit as a whole: “Have fun, but really focus on perfect form,” she says. “That is the key.”

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